It isn't everyday that one gets the chance to see (and smell) a blooming titan arum, more popularly known as corpse flower due to its stinky smell.
Native to Indonesia, the corpse flower only blooms once in ten years, during which it produces a flower and a notoriously bad small that some find comparable to the pungent odor produced by garbage or a rotting animal.
On Tuesday, Sept.29, the Chicago Botanic Garden announced that its corpse flower named Alice is blooming prompting thousands of spectators to line up to get the chance to see and even take selfies with it.
Many of the visitors also look forward to personally smell the odor produced by the rare and gigantic flower.
The smell helps the flower reproduce by attracting pollinators. Carrion beetles and flies that typically eat dead animals are attracted by the flower's stench odor and its warmth.
Once these insects crawl into the flower's spadix or interior axis, they are coated with pollen through which they cross-pollinate other corpse flowers when they fly or crawl away.
The flower's pollen can be frozen for up to two years and some of Alice's will be donated to other gardens that have rare corpse plant.
Visitors who came to visit were thrilled to see the flower and get a whiff of its smell. Judy Levy, a retired nurse who went to see the flower said that it smells like a diaper.
"(I'm) thrilled because this is a unique experience," said Levy. "This is the next best thing to flying halfway around the world to see it in its natural habitat."
Alice is one of the garden's eight titan arums. It was not actually Alice but a larger corpse flower named Spike that the botanical garden expected to bloom.
Despite weeks of publicity last month though, Spiked failed to flower. Horticulturists had to manually open Spike because it was not able to bloom by itself. Experts were surprised that Alice suddenly bloomed last week.
"We were certainly all disappointed with Spike not opening a month ago. However we were able to learn a lot," said Chicago Botanic Garden floriculturist Tim Pollak.
To give crowds a chance to see the blooming corpse flower, the garden planned to stay open until 2 AM on Wednesday. Sept. 30, during the 24 to 36 hours that the flower is expected to bloom.